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Complaint about 'misleading' online ad for Cork IVF clinic upheld

A complaint about a radio ad for the same clinic was also upheld.

A woman injecting hormones for IVF.
A woman injecting hormones for IVF.
Image: Shutterstock/Natalya Lysenko

COMPLAINTS ABOUT A radio ad and an internet ad for a Cork IVF clinic have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland.

The complainant said that with regard to the radio ad, they considered the claim “If there’s a problem, our dedicated medical team …. will find it” to be misleading.

The radio ad featured a female voiceover saying:

As the proverb goes, worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. If you’re a couple trying to get pregnant and it’s not happening, don’t worry – take action. Sims IVF Cork invites you to take a free ‘his and hers’ fertility test. If there’s a problem, our dedicated medical team based in Mahon, Cork, will find it. Our aim is to help you realise your dream of having a healthy baby. Visit sims.ie/cork and don’t worry, new beginnings happen every day at Sims IVF Cork.

The ASAI said of the complainant:

She did not consider that it was possible to guarantee that all fertility problems could be identified and said it was sometimes the case that infertility problems may fall into the category of “unexplained fertility (sic)”.
She said that if the problem was caused by poor egg quality this may only come to light after an IVF procedure has taken place. She said she had been medically informed that it can sometimes take even more than one IVF procedure before this can be diagnosed.

The internet offer for ‘Free His and Hers Fertility Tests at Sims IVF Cork’ stated:

Sims IVF is offering you free His and Hers Fertility tests during the month of May 2017. This involves for the woman a simple AMH blood test that will accurately predict how fertile you are, and a Semen Analysis test for the male partner. This offer is available when you register during the month of May 2017.

The ASAI said:

The complainant considered the claim that AMH tests would “accurately predict” how fertile a woman was, to be irresponsible. She said fertility could at times be far more complex than AMH levels and she queried the accuracy of the results in every case.

In response, the advertisers said that they disagreed with the complainant’s view that the Anti Mullerian Hormone blood test (AMH) was not an accurate indicator of a woman’s fertility prognosis.

They also said that “unexplained infertility is what was left when all available reasonable investigations had taken place and that some 20% of the infertile population fell into this category”. They also said that the testing of AMH levels was accepted worldwide “as an excellent method of measuring a woman’s ovarian reserve and by extension her fertility potential”.

They said that “the AMH value was not taken on its own, but formed part of a diagnosis that looked at both female age and reproductive history. Additionally, the male partner was comprehensively assessed using a standard fresh semen analysis”.

In addition, they said: “The results of the AMH test (if outside the normal range) were sensitively communicated by their trained consultant and nursing staff taking into account the individual/couple case history.”

However, the ASAI upheld the complaint.

Response

The complaints committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertiser’s’ response.

The committee acknowledged that infertility “was a sensitive topic for many people”.

With regard to the radio ad, the committee considered the statement “If there is a problem … we will find it” to be an absolute claim for which substantiation had not been provided.

The committee considered the radio advertisement to be in breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code.

Of the internet ad, the committee considered the statement “This involves for the woman a simple AMH blood test that will accurately predict how fertile you are…” to be an absolute claim.

As the AMH value was not taken on its own but formed part of a diagnosis, the committee considered the claim was likely to mislead and was in breach of sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the code.

The ASAI said that the advertising should not be used in its current format.

Read: Bank ad ordered to be changed after child shown wearing puffy jacket in car seat>

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